Hancock County News

Classes scheduled to resume Monday at New Palestine HS after another reported positive COVID - 19 test

A second New Palestine High School student has tested positive for coronavirus, the district said Saturday.


Administrators were notified of the positive test result late Friday. The student who tested positive was last on campus Monday.


Monday was the first day of school at New Palestine High School. Another student who had tested positive for the virus attended classes on the first day of school.  The family physician who provided the notification of the positive test result for that student included the wrong “return to school” date on the note provided, according to a joint statement from Southern Hancock schools and Hancock Health hospital system.


“Based on sound contact tracing conducted by district officials and nurses, the district has determined Friday’s case is not connected to the NPHS student who tested positive on Monday, August 3,” the district said in a statement.


Families of the students considered to be close contacts of the second COVID-positive student have been notified.


A full sanitization and disinfection of NPHS will take place this weekend and classes will remain as scheduled next week.

Greenfield-Central reports another positive Covid-19 case

For the second time since school started, Greenfield Central school officials are notifying families of a positive case of Covid-19.


This case is at the high school and was a student. 


Families were notified Friday evening by superintendent Dr. Harold Olin, who said the district's protocols for dealing with a positive case were implemented. 


School officials began contact tracing and notifying those in close contact with the student, according to Olin, adding that if a family did not receive a call, their child was considered to not be a close contact.


Olin also asked parents to keep any students with symptoms home, as well as those awaiting test results or those who have been near someone tested within the last two weeks. 

Hancock Co. Dunlavy farm honored with Hoosier Homestead Award

Area legislators recently announced the latest recipients of the Hoosier Homestead Award, which recognizes farms owned and maintained by the same family for 100 years or more.


The Hoosier Homestead Award Program honors families who have made significant contributions to Indiana agriculture. Instituted in 1976, the program recognizes the impact these family farms have made on the economic, cultural and social advancements of Indiana. In the past 40 years, more than 5,800 farms have received the honor.


Represented by State Sen. Michael Crider (R-Greenfield) and State Rep. Bob Cherry (R-Greenfield), the Dunlavy farm in Hancock County was recently honored with a Centennial Award.


"Farmers are often underappreciated, but Hoosier farmers contribute billions of dollars to our state's economy each year, and we are fortunate to be a state that has families who have dedicated generations to this industry," Crider said. "I commend the Dunlavy family for reaching this historic milestone and thank them for their years of service to our state."


"Indiana was built on the backs of hardworking farming families like the Dunlavy's," Cherry said. "They have certainly managed many challenges along the way to remain in operation for this long, and it's true a testament to their dedication to the agriculture industry. Congratulations and we wish you continued success for years to come."


To be named a Hoosier Homestead, farms must be owned by the same family for at least 100 consecutive years and consist of more than 20 acres or produce more than $1,000 of agricultural products per year. The award distinctions are Centennial, Sesquicentennial and Bicentennial – for 100, 150 and 200 years, respectively. 

New Pal schools hit by cyber attack

The start of the 2020-21 school year has been a bumpy one for New Palestine schools as officials with the Community School Corporation of Southern Hancock County had a positive Covid-19 case on the first day and are now dealing with a cyber attack.


According to district officials, many of the district's technological systems fell victim to the attack, impacting internet connectivity for teachers, students in classrooms, and students attending virtually. This has also impacted the functionality of some other district programs, including PowerSchool and Canvas.


District officials confirm that NineStar and the district's technological services provider, Five Star, are working quickly to restore connectivity to the district and mitigate the risk of future attacks.

Whoever is responsible will be prosecuted.


"Our administration has notified our law enforcement partners at the New Palestine Police Department, Hancock County Sheriff’s Department, and Indiana State Police. The district intends to pursue all available legal avenues related to this attack," superintendent Dr. Lisa Lantrip said. 

In addition, Lantrip said the district is taking the attack "very seriously."


"We sincerely apologize for any difficulties this has caused for your students and our teachers. We want to thank our teachers for keeping learning going both in-person and virtually during the outage. We know that everyone in the Southern Hancock community has worked diligently to support our students during these unfortunate circumstances," she said. 

Fortville pharmacy closing influenced by pandemic, economy

The Covid-19 pandemic and recent economic downturn has taken its toll on Hancock County, including Fortville’s only independent pharmacy.

Eric Garst, owner of Garst RX Pharmacy, 325 S. Main St., Fortville, recently announced that he has sold to CVS, and beginning Thursday, Aug. 7, customers prescriptions will be at CVS Pharmacy, 715 E. Broadway St., Fortville.

In a letter to customers, Garst thanked customers for being loyal and selecting Garst as their pharmacy.

“Our decision to sell our pharmacy was not easy to make. Unfortunately, prescriptions have become less and less profitable, making it harder to pay the bills. We sincerely appreciate all your support over the last five years,” Garst wrote.

The pharmacy building will be on the market in the near future, and Garst told customers he and his family will be staying in the area.

“My family and I will remain living in Fortville, so we hope to see your faces around town. While I loved every minute at the pharmacy, I am looking forward to spending more time with my family, Amanda, Jack and Olivia. Again, I cannot thank you enough for your loyalty over the years, and I hope we were able to make a positive impact on every life we touched through Garst Rx,” Garst wrote.  

New Pal HS student confirmed positive test for COVID-19

For the second time in as many weeks, a Hancock County school district is dealing with a positive COVID-19 case on the first day of school.  A student at New Palestine High School came to school Monday with COVID-19. 


In a joint statement from the school district and Hancock Regional Health, confusion over the school district's start date was to blame for the late notification. The family physician who provided the notification of the positive test result wrote the wrong return to school date on the note provided.


According to district officials, the student showed to school with a mask on and confirmed that there was a small number of close contacts who were identified and were isolated.


The Hancock County Health Department has contacted parents whose children were exposed and are asking them to quarantine for 14 days.


In addition, Hancock Health will conduct a full review of its notification process and begin implementing rapid turn around testing, according to the release. 

This is the second confirmed case at New Palestine High School, which had a football player test positive Friday. 

INDOT to close portion of North Gem Rd starting Wednesday

INDOT will close a portion of North Gem Rd at US 52 starting on Wednesday, July 29 in New Palestine.


The closure will last approximately one week. US 52 and South Gem Road will remain open to traffic.


The construction zone will span approximately 100 feet from US 52 traveling north. Southbound traffic on Gem Road will have access to Mill and Walnut Streets as well as the entrances to CVS and Brew 52.

Caucus to replace Brian Bosma set for McCordsville on Aug 19

Indiana Republican Party Chairman Kyle Hupfer has officially called a caucus of eligible precinct committee members to fill the upcoming vacancy in the office of House District 88. The seat is currently held by former Speaker of House Brian Bosma, whose resignation from the Indiana House will be effective July 31, 2020.

The caucus will be held at 6 p.m. ET, on Wednesday, August 19, 2020, at the McCordsville Town Hall, which is located at 6280 W. 800 N.; McCordsville, IN 46055. Proper social distancing will be in effect, and facial coverings will be required. 

The individual selected at the August 19 caucus will fill the remainder of former Speaker Bosma's term. 

"Former Speaker Bosma has served Hoosiers for more than 30 years, helping grow Indiana into the fiscal envy of the nation," said Hupfer. "Hoosiers will miss his leadership, and there's no doubt that the new representative for this district has big shoes to fill."

Individuals interested in running in the caucus should contact the Indiana Republican Party Secretary at dzagone@indiana.gop to ensure they file the proper forms prior to the deadline, which is 72 hours prior to the vote. The caucus will be open to credentialed media who pre-register to Holly Lawson at hlawson@indiana.gop prior to 5:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday, August 18.

A Facebook Live Stream will be available at www.facebook.com/indgop for members of the public who wish to watch the caucus live. More details regarding caucus procedures and candidates will be released after the filing deadline.



Mt. Vernon to delay start of school year

As schools across the state prepare to head back to the classroom, one Hancock County school district is pumping the brakes on a return.

The Mt. Vernon Community School Corporation decided Monday to delay the start of school by more than two weeks due to concerns over COVID-19.

Rather than starting July 29, the district is now slated to begin classes Aug. 17 and the decision will impact students who attend in person and virtually.

Furthermore, the district shortened fall break by a week and extended the school year into June.
While Mt. Vernon has opted to push its start date back, the other three districts in Hancock County are slated to return to the classroom on their normal dates, as of now.

The Community School Corporation of Southern Hancock County will offer both traditional and virtual learning to students this year and is set to return Aug. 3.

Eastern Hancock Schools will also return Aug. 3.

Greenfield-Central is set to return July 30.

Greenfield-Central preparing to open schools

Greenfield-Central Schools officials have recently announced the district’s plans for re-entry into schools on July 30 for full-time instruction.


Families opting for a traditional setting will send their students five days a week, regardless of grade.

In addition to school in a traditional setting, the district will also offer a virtual program option. The program will feature five hours of instruction a day for students in grades K-6 and six hours for students in grades 7-12. The district does warn that some classes will not be available virtually.

Students and families who decide on the virtual program option will commit for a semester.

All staff will do a required self-screening for COVID-19 symptoms, while it is recommended for students.

Should the school district have a positive case, the school corporation will consult with the department of health, rooms in which a positive case occurred will be closed immediately for an extensive cleaning and a school may be closed if close contacts cannot be identified.

More information regarding Health and Safety can be found on our school website at  www.gcsc.k12.in.us.

Furthermore, the entire day will have a different look to it as students and staff will be expected to have a mask with them at all times. When social distancing is not possible, masks will be required to be worn. There will be an emphasis on extra hand washing and hand sanitizer will be readily available. In addition, all schools will be professionally cleaned nightly and buses will be cleaned between morning and afternoon routes. Meals will be served in the cafeteria and consumed in alternative locations. Visitors to the building will be restricted.

McCordsville man says his birthday party topic of racist letter...a year later

Wes Smith can sum his feelings up with only one word – surprised.

The McCordsville resident’s surprise comes from a letter he says he received that discussed his African-American race and a birthday party he hosted a year ago.

The letter, which was handwritten, was addressed from the Neighborhood Assoc and the author tells the Smith family they “took time out of their busy day” to write the letter and they speak for the entire neighborhood.

“My wife and I were surprised, especially with having to wait for an entire year to hear from whoever it was,” Smith told Giant FM.

In the letter, the author states they remember a 30th birthday bash that featured loud music and a loud posse.

“I could not be more disappointed to be living next to a black family,” the author wrote.

The author writes that they do want that to happen again and asks the family to reconsider.

“We do not want to bring what is going on in the city to our peaceful town. Think about it, digest it, and be a good neighbor. Do not go disturbing the peace, or we will be forced to shut it down. Thank you,” the author wrote.


Smith tells Giant FM that everyone knew about the birthday party, it was posted on a community Facebook page and the family asked for forgiveness beforehand due to having a DJ, cars, etc.

“We kept it between the hours of 2-6 out of consideration for bed times and children, but we thought we followed what would be typical protocols to keep everything cordial. We invited some of the neighbors over, but we received not one complaint, and most everybody said they had fun and enjoyed my birthday,” he said.

Smith said his family has not had any issues in regards to racist activity from others.

“We know of others in the neighborhood that have certainly had run-ins, however,” he said.
Despite the letter, Smith said his family is not concerned.

“We are going to continue to live our lives. We’ll send out another mass message out to the neighborhood for an invitation over to the 31st party,” said Smith, adding the McCordsville Police have been tremendous and are investigating the incident.

The letter is a “teaching moment,” according to Smith for whoever sent the letter and those who question the validity of the letter.

“My wife and I even hesitated to not only report this to the police, but also do any sort of interviews for this. Immediately once the media posted about it, it was, naturally, all over social media, which opened doors to everyone’s rightful opinions, whether they were right or wrong. And, I think that’s what hurts the most. The lesson lies with looking at yourself and finding out who is the problem. You don’t want to be caught on the wrong side of history – the side that believes racism doesn’t exist anymore, the side that believes blacks are seeking attention, the side that believes Black Lives Matter means “ONLY” Black Lives Matter. It’s disheartening to say the least that now this has been brought to my doorstep and my family is now up for the court of public opinion,” Smith said.

However, he tells Giant FM those incidents will not stop him.

“This doesn’t take away my newfound drive to educate those that are uneducated about racial injustices and the fact that it runs rampant in our once peaceful town. The community, my neighborhood, my immediate neighbors who have shown love, my wife and I have been overwhelmed on that side of the fence. It’s been amazing the number of people that have reached out to us. They’ve let us know they stand by us, the support whatever we need, and they are coming to the next party, which is awesome,” Smith said.

And, he has a clear message for those who wish to deter him.

“We’ll be here in McCordsville for some time to come and will leave on our own accord when we very well please,” Smith told Giant FM.

Southern Hancock schools prep for return to campus

Masks, social distancing and keeping students enrolled and safe are the main points of a strategy by the Community School Corporation of Southern Hancock County to reopen its schools. 


The district recently unveiled its blueprint for reopening, aimed at having students, teachers and staff back in the buildings on time for the beginning of school. The blueprint can be found at www.newpal.k12.in.us/News/252.

The blueprint had nine initial goals – have students attend school safely; maintain compliance with social distancing recommendations by limiting interactions outside the classroom; focus on instruction of essential content; provide for intervention and acceleration of students through quality instructional design; support the social-emotional wellbeing of students as they re-enter; resume face-to-face meetings for students with specialized services; move seamlessly between in-person instruction and virtual programming in the event of a shut down; be responsive to parent, teacher and student feedback to create an instructional model conducive to engaged learning; and create consistency for processes and procedures of virtual learning at all grad levels.

Families within the district will have two choices on how to go back to school.

The schools will reopen to students on August 3 for in-person learning. In addition, families may enroll their student in a virtual school program to receive education from home. The program will be different than the E-Learning period during the spring and will be an entire school day.

In addition, the blueprint strongly encourages students to wear face coverings at school and students will have assigned desks. Furthermore, there will be no community school supplies, desks will be washed and disinfected and some students will eat lunch in their classrooms.

“As with any blueprint in the construction world, changes to this plan may need to occur before  or during the school year. These changes will be communicated through our normal channels -  email, the ?district website?, ?Facebook?, and ?Twitter?.     On behalf of our entire district team, I want to thank our community for their flexibility and  support during the COVID-19 pandemic. We all feel incredibly grateful for an engaged  community committed to exceptional public education and the safety of everyone involved in  our schools.    We can’t wait to see your students again on August 3. We are excited to start 2020-21 with  students back in the classroom,” superintendent Dr. Lisa Lantrip said. 



No Dems file for November in Hancock Co.

The path to November’s general election got a little clearer and easier for Republicans in Hancock County as no Democrats have filed for the general election.

While the deadline for Democratic candidates to join the race expired this week, third-party candidates have until July 15 to throw their hat in the ring.

With that news, that means Republicans are slated to hold onto superior court seats, commissioner seats in districts 1 and 3, coroner, and county council at-large.

Earlier this summer, David Stillinger held off a challenge from Joe Fortner in the Republican primary for Coroner.

Incumbent John Jessup earned the nod in the Commissioners District 1 race, while Bill Spalding got the nod in the Commissioners District 3 primary.

For county council at-large, Republicans Kent Fisk, Robin Lowder and Keely Butrum all advanced out of the primary.

For the Superior Court judge seats, D.J. Davis won the Republican nod for Superior Court 1, while Dan Marshall earned the spot for Superior Court 2.

While there are contested races for president and Congress, locally, there is only one contested race.

Incumbent and Republican Michael Crider faces a challenge from Democrat Theresa Bruno for Senate District 28, which includes both Hancock and Shelby counties. 

Hancock Co. schools training, prepping for return to school

As the calendar inches closer to July, schools in Hancock County are continuing to take steps towards reopening in August in a COVID-19 environment.  All four of the Hancock County school corporations are working closely with each other and the county’s health department to design guidelines and all are expecting to resume class on their scheduled start dates.

In a joint statement released by all four of the county’s superintendents, they state that all schools will receive training on COVID-19 symptoms and protocols.

“The safety of all Hancock County students, families, teachers and staff is always our first priority,” the statement reads.

The districts will adhere to county-wide guidelines when it comes to physical health and environmental health.


Under the new guidelines, families will self-screen for symptoms and should any symptom be present, they should exclude themselves from school.


In addition, staff and students should have a mask with them at all times. While masks will not be required for students at all times, there will be certain situations when wearing one will be required. Schools will also promote social distancing by maximizing instructional spaces and scheduling flexibly. Students can expect assigned seating on the bus, in classrooms and in the cafeteria.


Schools will start enhanced cleaning procedures in classrooms, common areas and on high-touch surfaces, and additional hand sanitizer stations will be installed. On the playground, students will be in separate groups to promote proper social distancing and limited interactions with other students.
Furthermore, visitors and guests will be restricted and schools will discontinue perfect attendance incentives to permit families to make the best health choice for their students. Also, immunizations must be up to date.

Implementation of the guidelines will be handled on a corporation by corporation basis, and the schools, along with the county health department, are creating a response plan for confirmed cases of COVID-19 in a school building.

Part of the response includes: closing all rooms where the case was present immediately for a deep cleaning and the entire school will be closed if positive close contacts cannot be identified.

Fortville implements riverfront district

Months of questions, discussions and meetings have concluded with the Fortville Town Council approving the implementation of a riverfront district in town. 


Indiana law allows municipalities to create a riverfront development district within a redevelopment area. While there is no river in Fortville, officials are using parts of a creek and ditches throughout town for the distinction. The state does have a stipulation that districts have to be within 1,500 feet of a waterway, however, what constitutes as a waterway is open to interpretation.
Several times this year, the council discussed the possibilities a riverfront district could bring to the town and why it was necessary.

Adam Zaklikowski, planning and building director for Fortville, told council the primary reason for seeking the district was to allow for additional alcohol permits throughout the town.
“We are almost at max capacity, and this is a legal way to do it,” he said.

There are three kinds of permits available to restaurants – beer, beer and wine and beer, wine and spirits. Fortville is currently at its max on permits, which are not transferable and do not allow for carryout.


The Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission, may, upon recommendation of the town, issue a non-transferrable permit to the proprietor of a restaurant or event venue for the purpose of selling alcoholic beverages within the boundaries of a riverfront development district.


The Fortville Redevelopment Commission determined the creation of the district will help remove barriers to development in the downtown business district. The riverfront district will operate in Fortville’s TIF district, which spans along much of Broadway Street and Maple Street/Fortville Pike. The RDC oversees the TIF district.

McCordsville officer injured answering call

It began as a call of a person threatening harm to themselves and ended with a McCordsville police officer being sent to IU Methodist Hospital with a non-life threatening injury.

According to the McCordsville Police Department, officers responded to the 5000 block of Woodhaven Drive, McCordsville, on a call of a person threatening to harm herself.  When officers arrived, they discovered the suspect, who was under the influence of drugs, had left the scene, prompting officers from McCordsville and Lawrence to begin a search.

When officers located the subject at the Oaklandon Youth Organization, 12150 East 62nd St., they tried to get her out of a vehicle, but she instead attempted to leave the scene, striking her husband and McCordsville officer Jessica Barnes.

The suspect’s husband was treated and released at the scene, while Barnes sustained a non-life-threatening injury to her leg. The suspect was arrested by the Lawrence Police Department.

Several Knightstown police quit in dispute with town council

Fifteen Knightstown police officers have resigned over a power struggle with the town council.


Knightstown resident and volunteer firefighter Scott Spurgin speaking to WISH-TV.



The officers became frustrated with the town council's choice for interim police chief, who the officers say is less experienced than the officer recommended by current police chief Chris Newkirk.  Newkirk is off duty due to shoulder surgery.


The council said in a Facebook post that there will still be a police presence in town, despite the mass resignations.



Fifteen Knightstown police officers have resigned over a power struggle with the town council.


Knightstown resident and volunteer firefighter Scott Spurgin speaking to WISH-TV.



The officers became frustrated with the town council's choice for interim police chief, who the officers say is less experienced than the officer recommended by current police chief Chris Newkirk.  Newkirk is off duty due to shoulder surgery.


The council said in a Facebook post that there will still be a police presence in town, despite the mass resignations.




Longtime Greenfield business owner found in pond; death investigation

Indiana Conservation Officers are conducting a death investigation after the body of a Greenfield man was recovered from a retention pond Monday evening.  Officers were dispatched to the area of Cone Court and Longfellow Lane in Greenfield regarding a person in the water.  Officers located the body of Charles Schrieber, 87, in four feet of water, near the shoreline.


Family had noticed Schreiber was missing from his home and began searching the immediate area. After a couple of hours, they located his body in the pond, around which he frequently walked.


Schrieber was the owner of Schrieber's Bait and Tackle in Greenfield for over 60 years.


Indiana Conservation Officers were assisted on scene by the Hancock County Coroner’s Office, Greenfield Police Department, Greenfield Fire Territory, and Hancock County Emergency Operations Center Dispatch.


Schrieber was the owner of Schrieber's Bait and Tackle in Greenfield for over 60 years.

Walmart warehouse planned for Mt. Comfort corridor

A massive Walmart warehouse is planned for Hancock County.


The 2.2 million-square-foot warehouse would have space for 146 truck docks, reports the Indianapolis Business Journal.


The warehouse would be built north of the Indianapolis Regional Airport near Mount Comfort.


Walmart already has distribution centers in Gas City, Greencastle, and Plainfield.





Fortville BLM protest

For Ashleyy Mariee, enough was finally enough.

In the wake of George Floyd’s death, Mariee knew it was time to get involved and do something.

But what?  After thinking it over, Mariee decided to hold a peaceful protest in Fortville, where she lives.


“I have a few reasons why I decided to take that leap and organize a peaceful demonstration because I’m simply tired. I’m tired of seeing the injustice on television every day in front of my eyes, actually going through the injustice myself,” she told Giant FM.


Mariee told Giant FM that part of her struggle involves her time in Fortville, where she heard racial slurs and admitted to feeling targeted by police.


“I couldn’t have a friend of color come into this town without feeling unsafe. I, myself, felt uncomfortable and unwanted. I knew I wasn’t the only one who felt this way,” Mariee said.

After deciding on what to do, she began trying to convince friends to get involved.


“I was talking to a Caucasian friend of mine the day before the demonstration, who didn’t totally agree with what I stood for or what I was reposting on social media. After explaining and doing his own research, he had a complete change of mind. He was so moved and hurt by everything that’s going on that he put in the effort to help make the flyer for the protest. That right there gave me the inspiration and motivation to set up a peaceful protest here in Fortville. Chastity Despain played a major part, as well, on helping me get everything together. She was my voice to the community, and she really helped make it happen,” Mariee said.


While many protests have featured demonstrations against police or have seen demonstrators and police clash, such was not the case for Mariee’s, which had the support of Fortville police chief Bill Knauer.


“Chief was very quick to respond to my request of supporting this peaceful demonstration. It was amazing to be able to see eye to eye with someone I felt unsafe around. He’s actually an amazing guy, very genuine about his community and police department. He wants change as well, and I can see it,” she told Giant FM.


Knauer also was vocal about the demonstration.


In a Facebook post, Knauer wrote that there is not one member of the Fortville Police Department that condones what happened in Minneapolis to Floyd. He also wrote that he believed the incident and ensuing fallout was race related.


“For so many years, the black community has been treated unfair… Please rest assure, that as long as I’m your Chief, everyone, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, anybody will be treated with respect and professionalism by this department,” Knauer wrote.


With the protest behind her, Mariee tells Giant FM she has only begun.


“My next step is to continue the unity in this community and spread light and knowledge on the surrounding towns/cities. This march was big for Fortville and its community. I appreciate this town so much more and am just focused on making it better and doing whatever I can to make it better,” she said.

McCordsville investigating treatment plant failure

McCordsville officials received notice recently that its wastewater treatment plant sustained a failure. 


An unknown substance has killed off most of the microbiology organisms that are needed for the treatment process. 


The Indiana Department of Environmental Management was notified on May 26 when the first incident occurred and has been aiding McCordsville with the emergency. 


Treating 450,000 gallons per day if wastewater, the facility uses various treatment methods including screening, settling tanks and biological treatment.  The biological treatment breaks down the waste and consumes the organic nutrients and makes the other treatment methods more effective. The discharge to the facility that killed the microorganisms is unknown, and samples have been sent off to determine a cause. 


McCordsville was also notified by the City of Lawrence that discharge had entered a ditch within Lawrence, causing water in the ditch to appear black.

Reward offered for missing Hancock Co. road signs

The Hancock County Highway Department is offering a $500 reward for information leading to the conviction of sign thieves.


Over 20 signs are reported to be missing. 


If you have any information on the thefts, call the Highway Department at 317-477-1130.

Holland vs Spalding for Hancock Co. Commissioner in District 3

Voters in Hancock County will have a choice in the Republican Primary for County Commissioner District 3 this season between two candidates well versed in law enforcement. 


Matt Holland, of the Greenfield Police Department, is going against Bill Spalding, a veteran with the Indiana State Police, to see who will represent District 3, which consists of Blue River, Brandywine and Sugar Creek townships. Brad Armstrong, the incumbent, opted not to run for re-election.
If campaigning in a normal world is tough, both candidates admit the COVID-19 global pandemic has only made things tougher.

Holland told Giant FM, in past campaigns, he was able to rely on going to meetings to talk with voters, go door to door and debate his opponents.

“All of these methods are pretty non-existent during this campaign. Therefore, I have leaned heavily on social media outreach, door hangers and yard signs. However, what the pandemic has effected even more so is the priorities that we will be facing, if elected. The top priority for me is now to help get citizens back to work and to do this in a way that is safe and healthy,” Holland said.
Spalding echoed those sentiments.

“Where once “meet and greets,” in-person fundraisers and talking with the public face to face were the norm, we have been forced to take different approaches like using social media platforms to get the word out,” Spalding told Giant FM.

With a tougher primary to wade through due to the pandemic, both candidates have a clear message to voters, which is to get out and vote.

“My message to voters is to find a way to vote. Don’t take for granted the powerful right to vote and select the person that represents you in government. If you don’t want to be exposed to health concerns, then please request an absentee ballot. I just encourage the voters to research their candidate’s platform and choose who they believe is best suited to represent them and to be their voice,” Holland told Giant FM.

Spalding said his message is to vote in accordance with the state’s plans.

“If you would still like to vote in person, you can, during early voting until June 1 or by voting on June 2, Primary Day,” Spalding said.

Both candidates are quite familiar, however, with the process of running for office and admit they have learned from prior attempts to seek office.

Spalding told Giant FM this campaign has allowed him an opportunity to assess his last campaign.
“As a first responder, I get an up-close view of our mental health problems. I’m concerned about the lack of mental health resources available to people in need. As part of my approach for providing for public safety throughout the county, addressing mental health must be a part of the solution,” Spalding said.

Holland, who ran in 2016, said his prior run helps by allowing him to know what to expect and build relationships with people he met four years ago.

“I have always been heavily involved in helping the community through sitting on multiple boards and collaborating with many community organizations for the past several years. This is something that I just enjoy doing and comes natural and genuinely for me. It helps because people know that I have been involved for many years because that is just who I am. I didn’t just become involved during campaign seasons,” said Holland, who has served on the Sugar Creek Township Board for over five years.

Mental illness and the possible creation of a Veteran Court have been issues discussed in recent months and years.

Both candidates acknowledge they will advocate for those impacted by mental illness.
“I will ensure that the programs that are being proposed at the county level stay on course and are implemented,” Holland said.

Spalding told Giant FM he met with Hancock County Prosecutor Brent Eaton to get his “expert opinion” on a veteran’s court.

“It is believed that, without creating more government, we can still help veterans through our existing special court working in conjunction with the Veteran’s Administration. Like veterans with mental health problems, many other people suffer with mental issues. Traditional incarceration is likely not the best solution, therefore, we must make available non-traditional programs and long-term therapy options. Access to this type of early intervention will cost the county less in the long run,” Spalding told Giant FM.

In addition to mental health, the two say there are also plenty of issues facing Hancock County.
Holland said it is important to help being a catalyst and not a barrier to get through the COVID-19 pandemic and help citizens and businesses get back to work.

“Completing ongoing road improvement projects, healthy and positive economic development, ensuring the new jail construction project stays on time and within budget, improving mental health accessibility and revisiting requirements for tax abatements are the priorities that I am most concerned about. All of these are priorities that need equal attention to keep Hancock County moving in a positive direction,” Holland said.

For Spalding, the addition of another court to help ease caseloads is one of the biggest issues he sees.

“Currently, there are three judges that serve. As the county continues to grow, there will, likely, be a future need to request from the General Assembly permission to create an additional court,” he said.
And, both men believe they are the right one for the job, pointing to experience as the reason why voters should vote for them.

“I am the only candidate for Hancock County Commissioner in District 3 that has experience serving in a local, governing position. Sugar Creek Township has top of the line fire service employees, equipment and facilities all while maintaining fiscal responsibility, having become completely debt free in 2020,” Holland said.

Holland told Giant FM Sugar Creek Township recently completed a new fire station by paying cash and not taking on additional debt.

“This station was completed on time and under budget. I plan to bring this type of fiscal conservatism to the Board of Commissioners. I am genuinely involved in the community and have been for at least the past 12 years and will continue to e. I haven’t just shown up during campaign times in order to try and win an election,” Holland said.

Spalding told Giant FM he has a vision for a “vibrant and growing Hancock County.”

“I have strong relationship-building skills. I have experience managing property and people. I have been the chairman of church property at Zion Lutheran Church and School for the last four years, a $1.5 million property. I understand aspects of maintaining and building facilities, dealing with budgets, contracts and insurance, and cooperating with others. I’ve also been a squad leader for 18 years with the Indiana State Police and have the ability to manage people, resources and ideas well. I believe through wisdom, understanding and discernment, I can provide sound, thoughtful government to the people of Hancock County,” Spalding told Giant FM. 

Thieves seen on camera at New Pal businesses

As a small business owner, Rob Walker understands the risks and challenges that come with his role. What he cannot understand, though is why thieves targeted his business recently.

According to Walker and the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department, thieves struck both New Palestine Hardware and Walker-IT LLC, 4083 S. Arbor Lane, on May 20.  Video shows two men stealing several items, including propane tanks, potted plants, items from a truck and more. According to a police report, the suspects did an estimated $60,000 worth of damage and stolen property.

Walker told Giant FM that this is the first time he has had anyone break into vehicles, destroy property and vandalize property.

“There have been property stolen in the past, but never to this level. Our community is extremely safe and crimes like this rarely happen,” Walker said.

Walker said he and the staff of both businesses are happy that nobody was hurt in the incidents.
“We, at Walker-IT and New Palestine Hardware, are just happy that no one was hurt and hope that no one else is affected by these people who choose to go against the rule of law and order. Our prayers go out to everyone who is affected during this virus. As always, we will continue to serve the community,” Walker said.

Anyone with any information is asked to call the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department at 317-477-1147.